Friday, March 22, 2013

I was a Bridgetine Bully too

HI, my name is Ninya Simon, I was a Bridgetine Bully.

There are so many of us who would not admit it, but when we were in high school we bullied other kids too. I remember I bullied at least three kids that I remember. You see I bully in different ways, I would mentally and verbally abuse other kids and I loved calling out their flaws. This was because when I was in high school and elementary I had an inferiority complex. As an adult I acknowledge that I am not a good person.

I know that there were kids in my school who got bullied in so many ways. But back then kids who got bullied fought back. There was a boy who acted out and strong-armed another student against the wall because the group of boys in our class always made fun of him. People remember him to be a bully, but I was one so I knew he wasn't. He was just afraid that if he didn't make himself seem tough, that the other kids would continue to bully him.

When I came home earlier today I heard from my mom and my derma (I was going home to get injections for my eczema) about another suicide. This time from my alma mater in Batangas. My derma has a daughter who was grade school classmates with the boy name Lee. Lee apparently shot himself due to depression caused by a combination of family and academic issues. He was bullied too.

Sometimes it's the quiet ones that suffer the most.

I remember I had a classmate who sat in the dark waiting for the class to start again. I wonder if Lee was like her too, pressured to keep his grades up and embarrassed when he needed to interact with other students who didn't seem to understand him. I wonder if one of the bullies in his class was like me and had taken the time to talk to him even when he didn't want to, would he still be around.

I sucked in Math. I totally did. I was only able to survive because I asked my superhuman math brains to teach me how to pass the tests in exchange for helping them out with their English essays and whatnot. I wonder if Lee had friends who would take the time to help him with his Math shortcomings would he have been able to pass his exams like I did and had one less thing to worry about.

What shocked me the most was the news that his teacher had replied to a text message with something akin to "What do you think?" when he asked if he was going to fail his subject. I took education units in Batangas State University and I know the Code of Ethics of Teachers. There is a whole freaking subject for it. You also need to take Psychology classes and train to be a teacher. No matter how tired my Math and Physics teachers were when I was in SBC no one told me this.

My teacher in Physics talked to me before saying that I would get a grade on my card that was lower than the expected low grade per subject for achievers. So she told me that she would adjust my grade for that grading and lend me a couple of points but that I would have to make it up for he next grading and I did. I hated Physics the subject but I found encouragement in my teacher who believed in me and helped focus that  grading on improving my grade. My parents didn't expect us to be achievers but I was motivated by my classmates who were doing well in school and my teachers who made learning fun despite the intense pressure we were all under in high school.

We called the kid who smelled "putok". We called the kids who always had their good morning towel as "drivers". We called the fat kids names too. We sang "Silvertoes" to girls who liked guys who were out of their league. There were even boys who pretended to give flowers to those girls who liked them. I did power-tripping during PMT and apparently was too much of a tight-ass when I was in my senior year. But none of my friends got bullied, I bullied other bullies when they tried to come near my friends. Sometimes you can be a good bully if you defended those who were weaker than you.

But what is worse in this situation is when good people do nothing. When good men do nothing evil prevails. 

Because of this I would be eternally grateful to one of my closest friends in EVER. She was a Bridgetine too. She sat me down near a tree in our high school building and told me what all the other kids were scared to tell me, that I was hurting them because of my behavior. For me I was just being my rowdy self. But she told me in the best possible way, away from others and without embarrassing me too that I had to change or people would start avoiding me. Real friend never embarrass or play jokes on each other. They help each other be the best version of themselves they could be.

Sometimes all a bully needs is someone to tell them that they are hurting themselves and others and that they can change. That they have every chance to change.

Sometimes all we need to have is COMPASSION for those who are not getting by as easily as we are. IF WE PLACE OURSELVES IN THEIR SHOES WE WOULD SEE THE WORLD IS NOT AS EASY TO LIVE IN AS WE THOUGHT and we would learn to be more sensitive in the things we say and do.

To my dear co-Bridgetines, let us pray for Lee and all the other kids who got bullied then and are getting bullied now.


Not all bullies graduate from being their high school self. When you go to college they just wear a different uniform and just use different tactics. After college you will encounter them at work. And whatever you do they will not change or make life less miserable for you.

Like I said in my previous blog about the UPM girl. 

Each student should have a picture of their smiling parents and their friends in their wallet, ID pockets and whatnot so that when they feel like giving up and they can't go one anymore they just have to imagine what it would look like when those smiles are replaced by tears and sorrow because they are gone.

We can survive a lot of things, bullying, rejection, family problems and even a failed Math test if we just find the courage to cry in our mother's arms or to speak up if we are in a dark place. Sometimes the only person who can help us is ourselves. If all else fails there is GOD.

Be grateful of the love and life you had. Until you are responsible for another life would you understand just how much you owe your parents for having raised you.

Please always choose to stay than go away.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Till Next Time, Mary Grace

I saw the poster. I knew she was gone. When I went back last Friday to do a workshop for my org, I saw Mike Ona in a vigil at Carabao Park. I knew they had found her. I asked him if they found her yet or she's dead and he confirmed it. I don't go online everyday or have tv access so I was shocked, angry, hurt and depressed all at the same time I think my entire body was shaking and I was cold as hell.

This, after Given Grace was the worst Elbi news I have heard in a long time. I imagined she fought for her life to the very last moment and she would not want to loose her life. She would have been able to survive anything else but murder. The image of her having scratches and being found near the water is awful.

But I want to remember her as she was.

To me she was a very positive girl. But she was one with hope, dreams and possibly a future.

When I went to the Febfair I saw a missing person's poster with a name I recognized and a face that was naggingly familiar. It was hers. My brother told me and reminded me that it was a girl who used to be a girl who sold things like peanuts at the grove. Then the memory clicked in my head. She might have been a vendor or a sampaguita kid.

A bubbly girl who said she envied the UP students who refused to buy her goods (because we didn't need it) but ended up talking to. We used to like doing that, talking to the kids at the C park or Grove. I am a softie when it comes to these things. I think I a closet philantrophist. And I brought those 3 large cookies in a pack to the park trying to eye one of the kids and giving it to them. I brought two always when my money could allow me to so I had mine to share with my friends and one for them to share with their friends.

Those kids were not beggars. They were not rude. They walked away if you said no or greeted you when they already interacted with you in the past. For a kid who could not afford to go to school, a UP student was the most envious person in the country. To them we got paid to go to school, something they couldn't afford to dream of.

The CTD people started to put together yearly Christmas parties for sampaguita kids, later there were fund-raising made for helping some of them go to school.

When my mom asked, "Bakit ganung, antanda na pero grade 3 pa lang?" Don't get my mom wrong she worked every day of her life to gain a good education. She worked for her allowance. My lolo was a newsboy in the morning and a tricycle driver after. My lola was a mananahi. There were 8 of them so life was tough but my grandparents wanted their kids to have an education. And to my mom, studying was a right she held on to because she knew it would lead to a better life. And it did. Not just for her but for me too. So even when he had helpers in our home, she would include an "education options" to the package. She didn't care to keep her helpers where they were. She wanted them to work now as a helper and be something else later on. My other lolas did the same being teachers themselves, they knew that an education was a meal ticket and never stopped giving back after all of one's effort.

Mary Grace went on an errand being the dutiful daughter that she was. But what demon would consume a grown man to do something like this to a nice girl with so many dreams is beyond me.

I told my mom, I don't know if drugs got cheaper or people just changed so much in LB that things like this happened. She said ganun naman daw talaga ang mga tricycle drivers, suspicious characters talaga. I told her whoa wait, when I was there they were polite and helpful. The jeepney drivers were nice and friendly. And the people, even those under the influence would not do something this abominable.

I always thought of Elbi as a haven, so this hurts me. And this shocks others so much they fear for their daughters. My parents are strict but they are also more fearful of the times now than before.

Is it me or is no place safe, is no one safe? Can a good local government really be present or is image management all they are concerned about?

What happened to the security of the streets of LB? Is it really the fault of new people or are the people not able to check the balance of their lives leading to crap like this happening.

It's heartbreaking that she never even experienced having a graduation. Maybe God would be merciful and give her a next life that is more privileged where she would grow up to be a woman of worth and be one who fights for the lives of other women.

The reason why even as a Catholic I believe and hope reincarnation is true because otherwise it's just too damn depressing.

Mary Grace, please say hi to Given, Rochel and Ray for us. I am sure me Carabao Park din sa langit.

Inquirer news article


Saturday, March 16, 2013

No Iskolar Left Behind?

I think my mother would feel really bad when she saw this news regarding yet another death in the UP system. She can relate really well to how difficult it is to generate funds for our education. I feel bad that she was just a freshman and she wasn't even able to make it to that Sablay moment and made her parents' effort worth it. My parents felt it thrice. The sad part of this is that "Anne's" parents would never feel this for her. And surely they were extremely proud of her when she got in. My parents were ecstatic, I went out of my house and raised both arms and screamed into the sky "Nakapasa ako sa UP!" and the neighbors who were also my relatives heard and were happy too.

My male bestie in UPLB is from Tondo, or at least he lived there most of his younger years until he got the chance to go to UPLB as a scholar. It changed his live and he was able to gain the confidence to get out of his old ways and life to become a student. He had a hard time since sometimes his stipend would not be enough or would be late. But he did his best to get every hurdle out of the way. At some point he was able to be an instructor in UPLB. I miss him and I am sure wherever he may be now, he feels for Anne and her family.

Is it unfair that now this is a reason for a student to end their life? Is frustrations and seemingly overwhelming burdens a valid reason not to go on living? Is it lack of concern on the part of the University that led to her demise?

There is always a casualty to the change that is introduced to the system. Because of the increase in tuition fee there are less and less scholarly students who can get their UP dream. I am afraid of the lack of Anne's and Kambal's (my bestie) in UP, diligent and smart students whose lives were forever changed because of the hope of a UP education. One chose to never leave as a graduate and the other made it come what may.

My stand on suicide still doesn't change. We need extreme courage and self-motivation to want to keep on living. For others who have it made, what she did is a little hard to imagine but horrible just the same. But to those who have been in Anne's situation before it brings to light an injustice that is ongoing.

Education is a right not a privilege! I used to hear this from my red friends when I was still in Elbi. But what if the right to an education is delayed because of the lack of financial capabilities? Should one just sleep an eternal sleep? I am sure Anne's friends and family as well as the people she interacted with in UPM would feel bad when people say that it is not a valid reason. Because an LOA is not the end of one's stay in college.

I just hope that if there is ever any other Freshman or Iskolar who feels this way, or is in the same situation.
PLEASE WAIT. An LOA, lack of funds and even having to leave the University to study somewhere else can still lead to better things later on. But the choice to leave LIFE because it's unfair and difficult as well as seemingly hopeless can never be turned around.

Let us all place the smiling pictures of our parents in our wallets and whenever we feel like loosing hope because we can't pass an exam or not graduating on time and what to just go into the deep end, just look at those smiles and imagine their tears if you ever go through with it.

Be grateful of the love and life you had. Until you are responsible for another life would you understand just how much you owe your parents for having raised you.

Please always choose to stay than go away.


My comment to a FB thread with PEBA peeps

I am a UPLB student. I am a peer counselor for Freshmen in UPLB when I was studying there. I still keep in touch with our Gabay volunteer group (peer counselors for freshmen) and I get inside scoop as to how things and students have changed over the years I was there to date.

The goverment cut the funding for UP and for education significantly. We are not subsidised by the government as the assumption is still the same case. The reason for the Tuition Free increase in UP is because the funding was lesser and lesser and ever corrupted in the end so the University had to act. In LB there was an appeal to let the projects we have be used to subsidise the scholarship or the funding generated be used for the University to keep costs down. I don't know what happened but ultimately the tuition fee increased so high that kids who got into UP ended up not going because they could not afford it. Most of the students who are in UP are either well-off, hoping to stick to a Scholarship or are those who were wait listed. This significantly changed the landscape of the situation.

Imagine being a girl from a family that had hoped that you could get into a state university so that it would be lesser fee-wise then you get there and you see classmates with laptops and can ease to school in cars and such. While you only have willpower, prayers and your parents unyielding effort to help you in the best of their abilities get to school. Would that not depress you?

But you push through. You still study hard. You still fight the pangs of depression and your own sense of self-entitlement. But effort can't always generate funds. Begging can't always bend the rules.

But for me the will to survive for your family, for yourself should have won.

There are other suicides in the history of UP. Students who got heartbroken, will broken by failing so many times when most of their lives they never failed on test or subjects. But this one really made me mad. Because of the ungrateful ones who did not pay for their loans someone like her suffered so much.

I am a UP graduate and I know it's advantages but I also know BRILLIANT people who finished university in other colleges and other universities. What you do with yourself after you finish your education matters most. Maybe for your initial job, for the first impression it matters. But your attitude and your work ethic would matter more in the end.

I know of so many UP graduates who float around after they leave the university waiting for that Dare to Be Great moment we were brainwashed we would have. Then I see those who actually make it happen. Not all bookishly smart kids make it in the real world. Sometimes we can't catch a break. But I believe that we should never give up on life.

We can survive an LOA or moving to a different school. But we can't go back from ending a life too soon.



My thoughts on the Suicide of UP Student Kristel Tejada

While some are beating their breasts or pointing fingers over Kristel's death, or talking of clearer and more pro-poor policies on UP enrollment, my concern is not for what is perceived to be the immediate cause of her suicide, but its roots.

Indeed, suicide is a complex issue, and only one thing appears to be clear. There is an increase of reported suicides among the young, due to reasons that would not normally drive them to kill themselves: lost love, poor grades, a bad interview, and in Kristel's case, an LOA that would have enabled her to re-enroll next semester.

It happens. UP students don't have money, they drop out, they come back. They fail, they get an LOA, they come back. Some get kicked out, get some really nice work experience in the field, and come back. Or not. But they don't kill themselves. They get another life, and often succeed with or without UP. At least that was how it was when life was harder, when we had to wait a long, long line to make a phone call, when we had to actually PHYSICALLY search for and read books and journals to write a term paper, when we had to wait for a week or two to get a (love) letter through the mail, now known as snail mail, from a loved one who had to travel home for 2 days by sea because he couldn't afford airfare.

Life was hard then. When people were poor, like I was made to believe I was, they had apples or cheese once a year if they could get any at all, and they got their allowances in coins, not bills. They had to survive on rice and sabaw, or rice and free sauce if they got lucky when the coins ran out. They walked, didn't ride -- sayang ang P0.25.

Back then, a wrong political move could send one missing, only to be found wounded, in jail, or worse, dead. No, we didn't commit suicide then. Life was hard but precious. We were harder. We would prevail.

Yet the experience may have driven many of us to do everything so things would be easy for our children. We love them dearly and don't want them to suffer the pains we had.

We have made material things, manipulatively put within our reach by quickly developing technology that obsolesces as fast, easily accessible to our children who might have little experience with postponing gratification. We have protected them heavily, because of our justified fear of their getting hurt by an increasingly cruel world, without a transition to independence that would have strengthened their will and capacity to survive the downs of life. We cave so fast even to trivial demands, so they wouldn't hold their breath while crying a ruckus and die (they can't do that). We have made things easy for our children. Probably too easy.

Quite possibly, there's the rub. Cesar Montano once remarked in a speech that he had such a difficult childhood yet believed that such difficulty made him successful later in life. Now that he was rich, he was worried for his children who had a comfortable life. He said "kung pwede ko lang bilhin ang kahirapan para magkaroon ng pagkakataon na tumibay ang mga anak ko". He didn't know then the speech would be prophetic of his son's suicide.

I read somewhere about someone who saw a butterfly struggling to emerge from a pupa. It was displaying much difficulty and valiant effort in the process of breaking the constrictive covering. That person was moved with pity and so "helped" the butterfly by taking off small pieces of the covering. The butterfly did emerge, but fell and died later. The vessels of its wings did not fill with enough blood to nourish the wings and make them strong. That, apparently, was the whole point of having to struggle to come out of the pupa.

Which brings me to my question: Are we helping our children too much that they are not developing the emotional strength needed to face life's challenges? Are we unwittingly putting some of them on the path that Kristel took? What do we do? What don't we?

Let UP restudy its admission and tuition fee policy. Let the faculty and students express their outrage. Let the politicians rant if they wish. But let us, parents, take a long look at how we are raising our children. How do we stand by and watch them struggle because like the butterfly, the struggle will make them stronger? How do we prevent another Kristel?

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Who What Where When and Why

Found this on my FB newsfeed. I haven't stopped crying yet so I can't say anything more than this. Anubaaaaaaaaaaaah

Watch it here it's better I can't figure out how to make it small...

. Here is the Youtube of it. It's from WongFu Productions.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Febfair 2013 Blog: Not My Elbi anymore

Disclaimer : This is a rant blog. Do not continue to read if you plan to get hurt or thing this blog is about your. Read the title of the blog again. Then understand it's mine and you can stop reading now if you are an onion skinned loser. 

I  want to write about this before I dilute it with the fact that in a few hours I would have to go back to the company and have to face the fact that febfair 2013 is over. Most of my batchmates don't come back anymore. But in the spirit of things, having attented my elem/HS centennial I figured I should also make sure to go to the Febfair. Sadly, there was no booth to be found. first because I didn't see the unmarked tent and the people right in front of that booth didn't even know where my org was. The next day I walked around unanchored and bored because I didn't have a place to sit down and do kamustahan, an org tradition and weird reverse bull session.

The plan was set, at least in my head to have my work bestie and HM to go with me. HRH could not make it because she had medical reasons and so it was just HM and moi who went there. I had forgotten that I didn't have to go to work on the 14th (EST and MLA time fracking me up every time) and I slept through HM's bday salubong (something I only learned about when I became a college student though I used to love to greet people at 12 in the morning on their birthday)

HM and I caught up with a few hiccups. Her check out time was later than expected and excited bee that I was I ended up waiting for her at the Buendia Jam station. Literally, a luvshak goddess met me there when the traffic let up. I was in my "student garb" and she was on her birthday outfit which is to be expected but still them yoga and circuits are paying off.

We ate at Bonito's as planed and I had raviolli. HM finished her quest so soon after ariving in Elbi. Someone she has been looking forward to seeing was there. What happened after is no longer bloggable but nevertheless unexpected.

After HM and I had her Bday bonito's and her Mernel's cake we met up with my brother and talked then headed into the field to see where our org booth was. But like a hero's unmarked grave, it was right under our noses and we didn't even realize it was there. I even asked the Rheto peeps where the booth for my org was. Four hours after HM asked on our group we got our answer. To say that I was disappointed is an extreme understatement. Let's just say it was the first time I didn't get to shake hands with orgmates when there were some on the campus when I was there. I was hungry and thirsty for news and I was left high and dry. I wondered how they were and how we, the people who only get to come back once a year or once in a blue moon could help. Some regular gigs were off and there needed to be a lot of things done or changed to have this org be relevant to the new grade-conscious population of UPLB. I want to blame Globe's lame network in the campus and the dead spot of my brother's apartment. But I really can't just blame that. I want to blame the ifone I own but I really just can't blame that. I want to blame myself for not getting updates and not having the numbers of residents. But I really just need to get over it and not let it ruin every thing else.

After the field disappointment we just went out to go to Koffee Blends. We talked about work and life stuff and I realized that 2013 seems to be moving both fast and slow. I think it's coming with old age that you feel like time is passing so quickly but you are able to feel that the consistency of your life is a lot stickier than before. Not a lot of things can get pulled in but it's not stagnant as well.

HM said something during the time we in ELBI for that time, we thought our lives were so complicated and or difficult when we were still there. Sometimes the feeling that this is really is it is not actually the reality of it. Being there and having the Elbi that we had then made for a crazy yet wonderful time. But times have changed drastically and almost violently. Elbi was no longer a haven and even if you close your eyes really tight it doesn't look the same again. The bar where you meet the mistakes and the great love is no longer named Loata Loca but Infinit (I think I heard this is the name) and the Adios Mother F*cker is lost forever. You can't play at HOPSCOTCH anymore. And the LIGHTS of Havana is no longer as enlightening as it was before but a watered-down version of it's past greatness. That or maybe Belvedere has spoiled all girly drinks for me since Bora. But apparently Beer Pong is a sport in a bar that I missed playing. I should really have tried that. Maybe next fair. ^.^ If I do not have a boyfriend to play with during that time.

HM had laughs and realized my brother is not as quiet as she thought he was. We had silogs early morning of the 15th after HM and I got scared of the stories that didn't make it online or on the news about what happened in our dear old Elbi. I am only going to say this one more time, it was a mistake for them to ever let that fool into LB and the office of the mayor. He should become persona non grata. I swear.

The next night, after waiting for the dark to spread and having watched episodes of the amazing race 20, I ventured back to see if our tent was there. Ziltch. It was stolen or so I was told. It made me remember that time I borrowed my dad's tarp and then it had big slices from where it was tied to a soccer goal we pushed all the way to the freedom park from the oval (yes, if there is a will there is a way to have a booth that can't be taken away). I wondered if we found out that the tent was ours the night before could I have reminded them of that insident and they could have had a better chance of keeping that tent away from the thieves of the fair.

Then I got a message from D. I hung out with him even though he was sick and I think I caught his bug. I got to take a lot of pictures of him and his friend/orgmates. But I couldn't shake the irritation that I had a dslr and no orgmates to take any pictures of. It was the 15th, it was supposed to be the anniversary month of my organization and I didn't know if it still even existed.

I got to do a wisdom share with three doengsaengs. I just hope that I was able to make a contribution. But I know for a fact that people only listen to themselves and no change true blue or adjustments ever sticks unless you do something about it. I realized then that I didn't have to get so hung up on the fact that I was not able to hang out in an org booth. I was thinking maybe next year we can help them set one up. Then I thought if it was possible for the volunteer corps of Gabay to have a booth. It could be a freshman booth. If you are a Gabay or a freshman who doesn't have an org yet, you can hang out there. I'll try to remember to suggest that to them some other time. Because my life was not just about partying and being an org member, a large part of it was the days that I spend volunteering for helping out freshmen. We could promote volunteerism and all the Freshmen activities like before. There would always be freshmen students and EVERY one who ever graduated was a FRESHMAN once...or a few more semesters than they should be.

Mental note: Ask Gabay's if they could put up a booth next year. ^.^

I was supposed to watch UP DHARMA DOWN on Saturday night but I got sick and still am sick now. But I would still go to work. Real life happens when you get on the bus back to where you live and work.

Jet asked me what I miss the most about ELBI and all I could say is the 25 pesos tocilog. Because you see, you can't miss things that you always carry around with you. In my head, Elbi would always be a safe place to walk around tispy and spunky at 4am with the most beautiful yet crazy friends a promdi like me could ever wish for. And I would not even if I was Hiro, change a single thing that happened.

We didn't become butterflies in college, elementary is the egg stage. High school is the caterpillar stage and college is the cocoon stage/puppa stage. Then after you are ready, you break out of your shell and FLY away to show the world just how beautiful that time inside that place made you. You can't go back a stage because it's just not possible. But you can always visit the garden where you metamorphisis happened.

So till next year, Elbi. You will always be my greatest battery charger. See you in '14.